The Scripps Howard Foundation announced this month that two projects from ProPublica and its reporting partners are finalists for the Scripps Howard National Journalism Awards.
“Barbados Resists Climate Colonialism in an Effort to Survive the Costs of Global Warming,” an investigation jointly published by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, is nominated for excellence in environmental reporting, honoring Edward W. “Ted” Scripps II.
In late 2021, reporter Abrahm Lustgarten set out to understand how unprecedented levels of sovereign debt would affect vulnerable nations’ ability to adapt to climate change. In particular, he began investigating the role that large banks and global institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, were playing. His reporting quickly led him to the Caribbean, where some 40 million people live across islands already facing heat-driven water scarcity, crop failures and the threat of increasingly powerful hurricanes.
The investigation found that over decades the IMF had been slow to support Barbados’ climate initiatives as well as those of neighboring countries. Instead, the powerful global institution routinely used its leverage to impose strict economic criteria for financial health that wound up forcing countries like Barbados to spend money they might have used for infrastructure and other improvements to repay foreign banks and investors instead.
The story also pointed to the role of the World Bank, which funds development projects in needy nations, but which had designated Barbados and other Caribbean countries ineligible for aid because they were not poor enough.
Three months after publication, dozens of small countries, following the lead of Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados, took to the global COP climate conference in Egypt to make their case for “loss and damage” funding and a form of climate reparations. The economic reform framework that arose from those discussions is now known as the Bridgetown Initiative, and the bones of that initiative, which is named for Barbados’ capital, reflect the solutions as they were first laid out in Lustgarten’s story. Soon after its publication (on the cover of the Times Magazine), the IMF revised its decade-old policy for Barbados, enacting a new $45 billion resilience trust and making Barbados one of the first recipients.
“Uvalde Shooting and Its Aftermath,” a collaboration by The Texas Tribune and ProPublica, is nominated for excellence in coverage of breaking news. Following the massacre at Robb Elementary School, which left 19 students and two teachers dead in the border community of Uvalde, the Tribune and ProPublica provided in-depth coverage of events and developments as they unfolded. Immediately after the shooting, reporters took great care to produce a series of stories that showed how the community grappled with grief following the horrific act, while also examining how disparities in the law had made it much easier for Americans to purchase rifles than handguns.
In the months that followed, ProPublica and the Tribune detailed efforts by the news organizations to obtain important public documents, scrutinized the state police response and got access to records of more than 20 emergency calls and dozens of hours of conversations between police and dispatchers that laid bare the increasing sense of urgency and desperation conveyed by children and teachers. The reporting teams also examined gun control legislation across the country, including loosened state gun laws in Texas.
See a full list of Scripps Howard Awards finalists. The winning news organizations and journalists will be announced Oct. 22.